Sensors are the technology of the future. Everything electronic device we use comes with dozens of sensors that read and interpret all kinds of information to provide us with reliable data.
Now, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC in Würzburg, Germany have developed a new type of Printable Sensors which can be integrated into clothing items to turn them into body monitoring devices.
These highly sensitive sensors can register pressure, deformation and temperature deviations among other things, therefore being ideal for tracking physical activity and other health parameters.
To make the sensors effective, the scientists use piezoelectric polymer printing pastes, which are then embedded within clothing using traditional screen printing. Once that’s done, an electric field is used to align the piezoelectric polymers within the paste.
This alignment is done in a way that causes electric current to be generated when any pressure is put on the material. These currents are considered as signals which can be used to provide a detailed picture of how the body moves and behaves.
Since the sensors can remain flexible and nearly invisible in the pattern, they could easily be integrated in popular clothing brands without sticking out. It will still take a lot of testing before that can happen. But when that is done, we can expect a slew of smart clothes with health and fitness monitoring technology.